It is IMPORTANT for BELIEVERS to RECEIVE the HOLY SPIRIT: And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit."…And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all. (Acts 19:1-2, 5-7)
When Paul visited Ephesus, he met twelve men who professed to be disciples. As he talked with them, he realized that their knowledge of the Christian faith was very imperfect and defective. He wondered if they had ever really received the Holy Spirit as believers. The thought of this verse is not that the reception of the Holy Spirit is a work of grace which follows salvation. As soon as a sinner trusts the Savior, he receives the Holy Spirit.
However, these disciples did not know was that the Holy Spirit had already been given to the Church on the Day of Pentecost. They did not know that Christ had died, had been buried, and had risen from the dead and ascended back to heaven, and that He had sent the Holy Spirit. As followers of John the Baptist, these believers had not been instructed about the coming of the Spirit. Paul explained all this to them. Then these disciples were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus as a public acknowledgment that they have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord.
We see that Apostle Paul then laid his hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit (vv. 6, 7). This is the fourth time in Acts when the Holy Spirit was given. The first was on the Day of Pentecost (2:1–4), and involved the Jews primarily. The second was when the Spirit was given to the Samaritans through the laying on of the hands of Peter and John (8:14–17). The third time was at the household of the Gentile Cornelius in Joppa (10:44- 45; 11:15–17). It is to be noted that the order of events leading up to the reception of the Holy Spirit was different in each case. Here in Acts 19 the order is: faith – rebaptism - laying on of the Apostle’s hands - reception of the Holy Spirit. When the disciples of John received the Holy Spirit they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
The moment we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit; we are sealed by the Spirit; and we receive the earnest of the Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin, convinces us of Christ, and comes into our hearts to abide forever. However, there is no denying that the Holy Spirit comes on believers in a sovereign manner through a separate experience, empowering them for special ministries, giving them great boldness in the faith, and pouring out upon them a passion for souls. Let us truly understand the importance for us, as believers, to receive (v. 2) and be filled (Eph. 5:18) by the Holy Spirit as our everyday experience!
Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. In the law it is written: "With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; and yet, for all that, they will not hear Me," says the Lord. Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers. (1 Cor 14:20-22)